May update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and here we are in May no less! I hope this finds you well, sun-licked and bird-songed. Speaking of hope, I’m chuffed to have a few poems accepted for coming anthologies, one being: an anthology of poems about hope from The Samaritans, published in July in paperback and Kindle. I’m also delighted to have been shortlisted for the Heroines Writing Prize and have poem in Volume 5 of Heroines Anthology from Neo Perennial Press, themed around telling women’s lost histories, or untold stories and reimagining women in myth, fairytale, folklore and legend.

This Saturday 11th May I’m speaking on a panel about neurodiversity and mental health with Georgia Bondy and Jennifer Booth at Wow Festival in Rotherham. And later this month, I’m so thrilled to be back teaching at the magic Ty Newydd Writing Centre of Wales with Vanessa Lampert for a full house of poets on ‘Writing the Rooms of the Poem’.

Busy times…

It’s been a busy time recently but lots of fun and fine creative connections teaching two retreats for Arvon at Hebden Bridge, and Ty Newydd in Wales in February and March. And yesterday I had a lovely little trip to Birmingham with Hive Young Poets Luke Worthy, Fae Horsley and Lalla Waddington for the National Poetry Collectives Showcase at Uni Slam. I’m currently planning for two writing projects and doing lots of mentoring. And spring is coming! 

Retreats! Retreats!

Hello people of 2024! I hope the year has started well for you 🙂 Just a very quick post as I’m busy-busy on catch up after a rubbish, dragging cold. I’m excited to be teaching three residential retreats with the wonderful Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre of Wales & Arvon this spring! The first is actually in February and it’s a Welsh young writers’ retreat. I was fortunate enough to run this last year, with fiction and screenwriter, Russ Litten, and it was such a gorgeous course with lovely young people, so I’m really looking forward to it again! I hope we have the same mild bright weather as last time. It was like a perfect early spring 🙂

Then on the 11th of March, I’m running a Starting to Write ‘Let your writing take flight’ Arvon retreat for the Lumb Bank centre at Hebden Bridge with co-tutor, the brilliant Jacob Ross and visiting writer Alycia Pirmohamed. A little of the blurb here: Do you feel unsure about how to get your writing off the ground? Do you want to get your flying machine of ideas into the air and landing on the dreaded blank page? What about support for writing you’ve already started? If you’re a new or fledgling writer, keen to explore fiction and poetry in a warm and supportive environment, this course will help your writing take flight. If you know anyone who might be interested, please pass on the details

And in May (26th-31st), I’m doing another poetry-focused retreat Writing the Rooms of the Poem at the magical Tŷ Newydd writing centre of Wales, with the brilliant Vanessa Lampert. Our guest reader is the wonderful Warda Yassin. We’ve endeavoured to keep the retreat as affordable as possible, and much less than the usual cost for these types of retreats but there are also discounted bursary places available for anyone who wants to apply. Details here.

Mainspring Arts Poetry Course

Just a quick end of year post to mention this online poetry course I’m running for Mainspring Arts aimed at neurodivergent people. Starts February 2023 and runs on Sunday evenings. There are two other fab courses to choose from too (Writing the Self & Freedom to Play). All details here.

And last bit of lovely news to end 2024: delighted to have a short story/monologue in the 100th issue of Mslexia (my favourite magazine!) Poetry dream realised 🙂 Happy holidays and here’s hoping for a better year for so many in 2025.

Remembering Benjamin Zephaniah

It was an honour to be on Paulette Edward’s show BBC Radio Sheffield today with Hive young poet Lalla Waddington talking about the light that was Benjamin Zephaniah. You can listen here at 2hr+14mins#dyslexia #neurodivergence #inspiration #dubpoetry

I also wrote this piece about Benjamin. Ode to a dyslexic philosopher: How Benjamin Zephaniah advocated for self-belief

After Hours Anthology

I’m so very excited to say, it’s been an absolute joy to edit Hive’s 2023 emerging young writers anthology: After Hours, and now… it is available to buy!!! Featuring 79 emerging young writers from across South Yorkshire and the nearby north (aged 14 to 30), the anthology contains 67 poems and 15 stories (115 pages). It’s such a diverse and inspiring book, definitely one of my favorites I’ve put together.

This brilliantly inventive, powerful and vibrant anthology of poetry and short fiction showcases writing by the next generation of writers in the North. Many are members of Hive young writers’ groups or have attended Hive programmes and projects across the region. Some have been placed in our competitions. There’s also work from Hive award-winning writers such as Luke Worthy, Beth Davies, Safia Khan, Lauren Hollingsworth Smith and Warda Yassin.

We launched in Sheffield at the Hallam University Performance Lab with young writers traveling from across the north to be with us. Such a wonderful night!

“From museum tardigrades to keyring turtles, glow-ups to circus tricks – mic-droppingly brilliant writing from the next generation of writers in the north.” Vanessa Lampert

So what are you waiting for? Get yourself a copy, or treat someone you love 🙂

Eco Poetry Workshop for the Being Human Festival

Yesterday I was delighted to work with poet Helen Angell on an eco-poetry workshop for the Being Human Festival via Sheffield Hallam University. Rather brilliantly, it was on a barge and we were on the move for the whole thing. I’ve delivered workshops on barges and at Sheffield’s Victoria Quays before (oddly enough as it’s not your usual venue!) and I love it.  Such a great idea to do some writing while going out on the canal, with some participants having a leisurely glass of wine in the afternoon! As she sadly couldn’t be there, Helen delivered an excellent reading of Harriet Tarlo’s wonderful poem that was commissioned through the project. As the engine of the boat was quite loud, we had a microphone. At one point, I had the urge to do eco-poetry bingo 🙂 At the end, participants came up and shared some really brilliant poems. There’s something about writing in that kind of environment, it always proves so inspiring. Thanks to Helen Angell, Amy Carter, Lauren McConnell and the team for a fabulous afternoon. Lovely write-up here from Sam Gregory.

Some autumn best bits…

What a busy autumn it’s been! A few highlights as we head towards December… There have been lots of lovely Hive happenings during the Off the Shelf Festival of Words again this year including a showing of the Ear to the Street film installation at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield. The film, which I had the privilege of putting together with tech queen Kitty Turner includes the words and voices of over 40 young people from across South Yorkshire. Details can be found in a post below. It was so great to have it showing in a public place, but I’m so pleased it will be available to watch online soon too.

Also as part of Off the Shelf, I was a proud mama mentor of three Hive alumni poets: Danae Wellington, Warda Yassin & Sile Sibanda, who launched their joint mini collection ‘Spit Out the Myth’ with the Poetry Business and Off the Shelf Festival of Words. Such a lovely event, and it was great to smile at the queue out the door when it came to the end book signing. Congratulations to these wonderful human beings!

And also in October, I got to take a group of Hive poets to the Forward Prizes award showcase in Leeds for the inaugural Young Poets Summit, alongside other young writer initiatives including the Barbican Young Poets, Young Identity and the Writing Squad. The Hive poets found it a really inspiring and insightful day. It was great to stay into the evening for the awards and readings, and for them to meet some of the poets. We even had a chat with Simon Armitage. Everyone had studied him at GCSE, so it was quite the moment!

And for much of autumn, I’ve been putting together Hive’s 2023 anthology: After Hours. My, my it’s a belter! There’s some absolutely stunning work here. I really can’t wait for it to launch in a few weeks and imagine the buzz for so many young writers, many of whom will be being published for the first time. Such an important and validating moment for them as writers. More on the anthology soon 🙂

And I’m very proud of three Hive writers: Luke Worthy, Freya Bantiff and Safia Khan who were commissioned to write pieces for the Northern Dreaming anthology as part of Leeds 2023. Every child in Leeds born in 2023 will receive a free copy of the book spanning work for the different ages of childhood and written by both emerging and established writers. More details here.

And I almost forgot, I’ve a poem accepted for Irish journal Southwords early next year, and a short story/monologue in the 100th Issue of Mslexia which I’m so thrilled about (and I’ve always wanted to be in Mslexia and great for it to be fiction for a change!)

I hope this finds you wrapped up warm and enjoying the hibernation time of year 🙂

Shortlisted in the Bridport Prize 2023

Delighted to have a poem shortlisted in the Bridport Prize 2023, judged by Roger Robinson! Congratulations to all placed 🙂

Arvon Retreat -Starting to Write: Letting your writing take flight

So looking forward to running this fine Starting to Write ‘Let your writing take flight’ Arvon retreat for the Lumb Bank centre at Hebden Bridge hostel with co-tutor, the brilliant Jacob Ross and visiting writer Alycia Pirmohamed in spring 2024. A little of the blurb here:

Do you feel unsure about how to get your writing off the ground? Do you want to get your flying machine of ideas into the air and landing on the dreaded blank page? What about support for writing you’ve already started? If you’re a new or fledgling writer, keen to explore fiction and poetry in a warm and supportive environment, this course will help your writing take flight.
Full details here